There was a lot of speculation on who would earn the starting safety spot opposite Harrison Smith during the offseason last year. It was primarily a competition between Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo. Blanton was the starter in 2014, but was beat out in 2015 by Sendejo.
Sendejo held onto that position for the entirety of the season, not counting the times he was hurt, and this offseason finds himself as a free agent. The question now becomes whether the Minnesota Vikings re-sign him or let at least negotiate with another team.
Even though Sendejo was named the starter and held the position for the entirety of the season, he did not have the type of season head coach Mike Zimmer would have liked him to have. He recorded 74 tackles in 13 games to go a long with a half a sack, one fumble recovery, one interception and three pass deflections. Those stats led to him being ranked the 85th best safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus with a grade of 52.
Even though Sendejo may not have had the greatest season, he can still play a valuable part on the team. He may not earn the starting safety spot next season, but he has experience and knows the defense, providing the team with valuable depth. He also is a valuable member of the Vikings’ special teams, which was shown by the fact he was named the team’s special teams player of the year in 2014.
Contract considerations: Taking that all into consideration, what kind of contract could Sendejo expect to receive if the Vikings decide to bring him back? The Vikings do not have a safety to replace him at this point in time, so he would likely be put in a competition for the position.
One player similar to Sendejo is Jacksonville Jaguars safety Sergio Brown. At the age of 27, Brown is just a year younger than Sendejo and recorded 38 tackles, 1½ sacks and two pass deflections in 15 games. Brown was one of the Jaguars’ starters in 2015, but like Sendejo he is not always a consistent player on the field.
Last offseason Brown was given a three-year deal worth $7 million ($2.3 million per season) with $1 million guaranteed. That is a number that could be in the range of what Sendejo could expect to receive, especially considering he earned a two-year deal worth $2 million with $400,000 guaranteed the last contract he received from the Vikings.
Another player one could look at when considering contracts is New York Giants safety Brandon Meriweather. He held a starting role with the Giants, but was eventually released by the team because of his performance on the field. The Giants re-signed him shortly after, when one of their safeties was out with a concussion.
He was re-signed to a one-year, $870,000 contract after recording 59 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass deflections in 13 games. After underperforming in 2015, it is possible Sendejo could see a bit of a pay cut if re-signed by the Vikings.
Sendejo will not be given the starting job on the Vikings by any means, but it is possible he will be given the opportunity to compete for a starting job. There is also the possibility that he does not get re-signed, though. The Vikings like what they have in their young safeties, Antone Exum Jr. and Anthony Harris, who both showed promise a year ago.
The Vikings could also bring in a new safety via free agency or the draft. At this point in time, though, that is still all up in the air. The other moves that the Vikings make this offseason will tell a lot about what the team plans to do with Sendejo.